Egypt said losing millions over travel restrictions on Arab tourists

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Egypt’s struggling tourism industry would get a major shot in the arm if the country lifted restrictions on Arab tourists, the head of an Egyptian travel association said.

More than one million new tourists would flow to Egypt if travel and visa restrictions were lifted for Arabs from Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco, said Khaled El-Manawi, chairperson of the Egyptian Travel Agencies Association.

A tourist walks past sunbeds on a beach in Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh on Nov. 10, 2015. /AFP/Getty Images
A tourist walks past sunbeds on a beach in Egypt’s Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh on Nov. 10, 2015. /AFP/Getty Images

El-Manawi pointed to Turkey as a good example. Some 900,000 tourists fly to Turkey annually and many Arabs, including Algerian nationals, are granted a visa at the Turkish airport and charter flights are provided.

Egypt’s tourism industry has suffered greatly since terrorists brought down a Russian passenger plane in November 2015. Tourist revenues wound up down over $1 billion last year.

But Egypt also suffers from an over-reliance on European tourists, El-Manawi said, adding that tourists from Maghreb countries last year spent more than $120 per night on average in Egypt whereas European tourists spent about $62 per night.

El-Manawi believes the Moroccan market alone could send one million tourists to Egypt if travel restrictions are lifted.

El-Manawi also suggested that visas should be granted to foreign workers from Saudi Arabia.

“We can benefit from the large number of foreign workers who want to visit Egypt which will help to increase tourism income,” he said.

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